3 individuals. 3 unique cities. 336 hours to experience it all. A preview.
Over the next 14 days, starting on March 10th, 3 reprobates will traverse over 16, 229 km in 336 hours, be simultaneously ripped out of their comfort zones, collide head-on into 3 unique cities at breakneck speed, become utterly immersed by countless eye-widening sights, tastes & sounds….before rapidly coming to the sharp realization they’re going to experience at least 25 W.T.F. moments each day.
Japan here we come.
I'm not sure if WE should get ready for Japan, or whether Japan should get ready for US.
Before I go into details about why we've collectively chosen to go, here’s 20 cultural references that initially sprung to mind when I was contemplating the idea of visiting the homeland of Godzilla.
20 Things I Know They Have In Japan
1. Retina bleeding game shows.
2. Random cartoons, which make no sense (Pokémon I’m looking at you) and Hello Kitty fanatics.
3. Interactive toilets like these.
4. Awesome ninjas, which we all pretended to be as kids.
5. Anime films like AKIRA and the home of Manga.
6. Sake, karaoke bars & Japanese schoolgirls – the potent cocktail for every businessman.
7. Vending machines, which dispense anything & everything.
8. Love hotels with themed rooms.
9. Real life robots that act as waiters, dogs and even dates.
10. The mighty Godzilla, who would OWN T-Rex any day.
11. All forms of delicious sushi & rice crackers.
12. The majestic and ever present Mt Fuji.
13. The Samurai Warriors of Imperial Japan.
14. Harajuku Fashion (thanks Gwen Stefani)
15. Picturesque Cherry blossoms.
16. The stylish and timeless Kimono.
17. Literally larger than life Sumo wrestlers.
18. Millions of handheld gadgets and devices.
19. The badass Yakuza with their phenomenal tattoos.
20. 40 ft neon signs, millions of LED logos and blinking skyscrapers
Here's a visual guide to Japan in 4 minutes.
Have I missed anything? I mean honestly, why WOULDN’T you want to go?
I must admit, there is no specific monument that I’m dying to see, I literally just want to immerse myself in the culture of Japan. I freely admit, the beautiful movie Lost In Translation had a tremendous influence on me, a modern day glimpse at the REAL Tokyo – it would be hard for anyone not to feel compelled to visit such a place after watching that film.
I’d always heard great things about Japan as a country. Several of my friends have been and none of them can speak highly enough of their time there. One of my friends Erin, loved it so much she even moved over there recently.
I’d always been intrigued by Japan’s customs, traditions & psyche as a nation. It’s paradoxical at times, the level of efficiency (their bullet trains run to the second) the cleanliness of their cities, their formal greetings & idiosyncrasies, the token Japanese ‘salary man’ – all juxtaposed with their unyielding passion for fluro tinged cartoon characters, quirky TV shows, neon lit karaoke bars, a national obsession with robots even down to the OTT nature of fashion displayed in their youth culture.
One part of their society is rigid, formalized and to an extent repressed, the other side is bursting with intensity, creativity and spontaneity. Poplar opposites, colliding everyday.
So how did this trip come about? As some of you may know, I’m a die-hard Sydney FC fan (for my sins) and this year they are playing in the Asian Champions League against a Japanese team called Kashima Antlers. I whimsically joked with my friend Dan (co-founder of Nothing Cooler Than) that it would be awesome to go over to Japan for a few days, experience Tokyo and go and see the game.
He’d been to Tokyo before for work and was already a huge fan, so we casually looked at flights. And there it was - the deal of a lifetime with our names on it waiting to be nabbed. Jetstar had a sale, $560 for a return trip to Japan per person leaving around 9am from Sydney and arriving back around 9pm anytime in March.
You’d have been mad not to take it.
The final piece of the puzzle saw Jesse (from the band BEARHAWK) for whom the mantra “WTF Japan?” is a life-long obsession to come onboard and join the tour. He hasn’t had a holiday in 5 years so you can imagine his level of excitement right now!
What had begun as a weeks trip to Tokyo to see Sydney FC, has now collectively morphed into a 2 week trip encompassing Osaka, Kyoto, Kashima & Tokyo.
Here’s 10 Facts You Might Not Know About Japan.
1. Raw horse meat is a popular food in Japan.
2. Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan, is an active volcano.
3. There are four different writing systems in Japan, romaji, katakana, hiragana & kanji.
4. Coffee is very popular & Japan imports approximately 85% of Jamaica’s annual coffee production.
5. Japan’s literacy rate is almost 100%.
6. Sumo is Japan’s national sport, although baseball is also very popular.
7. There are around 1,500 earthquakes every year in Japan.
8. The term karaoke means “empty orchestra” in Japanese.
9. Geisha means “person of the arts” and the first geisha were actually men.
10. It was customary in ancient Japan for women to blacken their teeth with dye as white teeth were considered ugly.
Throughout the trip we’ll be documenting the entire experience, so once we get back expect to see the internet flooded with photos, blogs and videos from our tour! We’re also dubbing it the “W.T.F. Japan Tour” rather apt by all accounts.
We’ll also be tweeting as we go, so make sure you follow Jesse, Dan or Myself (gold star if you do all three!) because we’ll be giving you a first hand account of what is happening. Whatever we Tweet, we promise it will always be genuine, real and tangible – I’m sure they’ll be some amusing insights and heated debate going on!
I’ve put together a preview of each area, basically an online itinerary which will show you what we’ll be doing and where we’ll be going. I’d love for you to give us some suggestions or feedback, especially if there is something glaringly obvious which we’re missing out on.
Previewing: Tokyo (coming soon)
Look out Japan, here we come - wish them luck.
Alex - Follow me on Twitter